April 2007

Source Eldis:

Lessons from the first decade of a new Palestinian education system, 1994-2005 Nicolai, S. / International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP), UNESCO , 2007

I n 1994, the Palestinian Authority assumed control of education within the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). This book examines the origins and recent development and management of the education system in the OPT between 1994 and 2005. In doing so, it draws lessons for both policy and administration of education in OPT, and for other planners working in emergency and post-conflict situations. Topics addressed in the study include:

  • development of ministry administration
  • budget allocation
  • donor coordination and support
  • ensuring access and inclusion
  • school construction
  • curriculum and textbook development
  • teacher recruitment and development

The report finds that, given the context of chronic crisis, and the immensity of the endeavour, the Palestinians have made substantial progress in a relatively short time, though the occupation by Israel from 2000 seriously set back progress. Though many problems are outside the control of the Palestinian Authority, the author points to a variety of broader lessons about delivering education in conflict-affected areas that can be learned from both successes and difficulties that have emerged in the Territory. These include:

  • the development of a curriculum can be highly contested but can also serve as a visible indicator of national identity and play an important role in building confidence in the system
  • the inclusion of education in a peace agreement is vital in clarifying authority
  • a centralised approach to governance might improve unity in a disparate territory, but comes at the expense of local ownership and decision-making
  • a society struggling for liberation builds strong civic groups which, as a new authority emerges, can be redefined as partners or remain as opposition
  • when a new governing authority is formed, support for recurrent costs for a substantial time is important to maintain stability
  • establishing an overarching vocational education and training can be difficult in an uncertain economy
  • school counsellors can be especially important in conflict-affected areas
  • while rapid teacher training initiatives can activate teachers after a crisis, these initiatives must form part of an integrated teacher training strategy
  • to enable NGOs to contribute to the delivery of education, they must be incorporated into Ministry of Education planning

Overall, the author suggests that planners in the OPT will need to adapt classic planning and management techniques to a situation of ongoing local instability.


Read full text


From: The Chronicle: Daily News Blog posted by Sierra Millman, April 26, 2007:

Higher-education officials, business leaders, and policy makers must bolster graduate education if the United States is to maintain its competitive edge in the 21st century, according to a report released today by the Council of Graduate Schools.

“America’s success as the world’s economic leader is rooted in our impressive graduate education system,” says the report, “Graduate Education: The Backbone of American Competitiveness and Innovation.” All three groups must work together to diversify graduate enrollments; encourage creativity, entrepreneurship, and a worldly outlook among graduate students; and increase the appeal of American graduate schools to foreign students.

More spending on graduate programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is a key step, the report contends. The National Science Foundation has reported that the number of scientific papers published abroad has increased by 30 percent, but the number published by Americans appears to have hit a plateau.

Most of the recommendations echo those in other reports (examples here and here), but some remain controversial. The report says universities should better prepare graduate students for nonacademic careers. The report also endorses national efforts to “develop benchmarks to ensure the quality of graduate education” and argues that universities must take an active role in developing assessments to systematically enhance the quality of the education they offer.

See full report here

Source Edge:

The second globalization debate is now upon us, and it’s no longer just an academic debate. It’s in the streets, as we know since Seattle, since the meetings in Washington, since the carnival against capitalism in London, and similar kinds of events all over the world.

EdgeVideo Anthony Giddens(5 min.)
Requires Real Player (free download)

by John Brockman

Though the notion that we live in an era of unprecedented globalization is becoming increasingly evident, that change is more often than not attributed exclusively to the convergence of technology with the financial markets. But too often in these discussions, the larger point is missed: that we have a historic opportunity. As Anthony Giddens, director of the London School of Economics, writes, “we have the chance to take over where the 20th century failed, and a key project for us is to drag the history of the 21st century away from that of the 20th.”

According to Giddens, “the driving force of the new globalization is the communications revolution,” and beyond its effects on the individual, this revolution is fundamentally altering the way public institutions interact. Giddens uses the idea of risk as an essential component of this future-oriented environment, asserting that scientific innovation explores “the edge between the positive and negative sides of risk.” Risk management, then, becomes a necessary a field of analysis. (see more here)

Science NetLinks is part of the Thinkfinity, a partnership between the Verizon Foundation and eight premier educational organizations. The Thinkfinity partners include the AAAS, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Council on Economic Education, the National Geographic Society, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The Thinkfinity partnership provides free, Internet-based content across academic disciplines. Science NetLinks’ role is to provide a wealth of standards-based resources for K-12 science educators, including lesson plans, interactives and reviewed Internet resources. Science NetLinks is a dynamic site with new content being added on a regular basis, so check back often.

Link: http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/ 

Source  The Chronicle: Daily News Blog:

A prominent Iraqi medical professor was unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States to give a long-planned lecture on Friday at the University of Washington.

The professor, Riyadh Lafta, teaches medicine at Baghdad’s Al-Mustansiriya University. With researchers from the Johns Hopkins University, he was a co-author of an October 2006 article in the British medical journal The Lancet that continues to be a source of controversy. It estimated that more than 650,000 Iraqi civilians — many more than officially reported — had died as a result of the American-led invasion.

When the date for Dr. Lafta’s lecture drew near and he had still not received his visa, the University of Washington arranged for him to deliver his talk at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, British Columbia, and to have it broadcast to the meeting at the American institution, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. But Britain refused him a transit visa for a four-hour stop in London to change planes.

A U.S. State Department spokesman denied that the government had intentionally barred Dr. Lafta. “Mandatory visa-processing requirements could not be completed in time for Dr. Lafta’s planned travel,” the official said in a prepared statement. The topic of the lecture was elevated cancer levels in children in southern Iraq. —Burton Bollag

Barry Wellman at studies networks: community, communication, computer, and social. His research examines virtual community, the virtual workplace, social support, community, kinship, friendship, and social network theory and methods. Based at the University of Toronto, he directs NetLab, is the S.D. Clark Professor at the Department of Sociology, does research at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, the Knowledge Media Design Institute, and the Bell University Laboratories’ Collaborative Effectiveness Lab, and is a cross-appointed member of the Faculty of Information Studies.

From Lecture Archive – Information School – University of Washington:

Lecture: What is the Internet Doing to Community and Vice Versa

Speaker: Barry Wellman, Professor, Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto
Date: Friday, December 8th, 2006
Video Stream (Main Presentation): [Windows Media Stream]
Video Stream (Q&A): [Windows Media Stream]

From Education Policy Blog by Aaron Schutz, Apr 16 2007:

One of the key assumptions behind investments in education is that educated people somehow create jobs, so that improving education will improve the economic situation for everyone. However, there is a great deal of evidence indicating that having an educated population doesn’t actually lead to a significant increase in employment.

Ralph Gomory (cited by William Greider), for example, argues that it wasn’t the education of individuals that made America wealthy, it was the investment in technology that made these workers more productive.

We invested alongside our workers. Our workers dug trenches with backhoes. The workers in underdeveloped countries dug ditches with shovels. We had great big plants with few people in them, which is the same thing. We knew how, through technology and investment, to make our workers highly productive. It wasn’t that they went to better schools, then or now, and I don’t know how much schooling it takes to run a backhoe [italics added].

“Free-trade believers insist US workers can defend themselves by getting better educated,” Greider reports, “but Gomory suggests these believers simply just don’t understand the economics.”

In other words, Gomory and others argue that education, by itself, is unlikely to have a significant impact on the state of the economy. And if this is true, it means that better educating those on the economic “bottom” won’t have much impact on a broad scale. Those who can compete best will still be the ones who get the best jobs.

Jean Anyon has come to much the same conclusion. In an article appearing in the Spring 2007 issue of Teacher Education Quarterly, for example, she and Kiersten Greene argue that education policies (like NCLB) would not be effective anti-poverty programs even if they actually improved education. They “demonstrate that there are significant economic realities, and existing public policies, that severely curtail the power of education to function as a route out of poverty for poor people.” For example, they note that “an increasing number of college graduates—about one in ten—is employed at poverty wages,” and that “more than two-thirds” of welfare recipients in 1999 had high school degrees.”

They focus on NCLB and argue that this program is really

a federal legislative substitute for policies that would actually lower poverty—legislation that would create jobs with decent wages for those who do not have them. Our critique has been that an assumption underlying NCLB, that increased educational achievement will ultimately reduce poverty, does not prove valid for large segments of the population.

The terrible truth seems to be not only that we don’t know how to significantly improve inner-city schools, but that even if we did know how, it wouldn’t make that much difference for the vast majority of students who attend them.

What does this mean for educators and educational scholars? Is this our problem? And if it isn’t, then exactly what do we think we are doing when we expend so much effort to improve schools for impoverished students and their families?  Are we just being “used” to some extent by powerful people who don’t really want
to invest in the areas that would actually make a difference for the poor?

More broadly, what, exactly, do we expect educators and educational scholars to do when they hear these arguments?

I believe that to respond to these challenges, we must rethink what it means to be an “educator” in the 21st Century. I doubt if we will really do this. But if we are serious about contributing to real social change, it seems absolutely vital.  And this will require institutional changes in what schools of education “do.”

As long as “education” is only about traditional forms of “schooling,” “education” won’t have much to do with empowerment.

Next Page »